Thursday, March 21, 2013

Drop Down and Get Your Eagle On

One of my favorite 21st Century harbingers of spring renewal is the yearly revival of live-streaming feeds from raptor nests across the world. When I was still doing ecology stuff, I was always fascinated by what are called "charismatic mega-fauna" - our peers in the animal kingdom. I'm a terribly unknowledgeable bird watcher, but I can easily identify all of the birds of prey native to the American Northeast.

So, as I sit down to work on some music in my studio today, I have a few raptor cams running on my second monitor screen. Here's what I'm watching today:

For me, the National Aviary in Pittsburgh is the OG of raptor cams. They have two - one in the Gulf Oil Building and one at University of Pittsburgh's Cathedral of Learning. Both are peregrine falcon nests - falcons have adapted to urban environments because they like to best in tall buildings that provide the same benefits as the tall trees and cliffsides they use in the wild. Since they often hunt small birds and catch them on the wing, this provides them with a good vantage point.

Cathedral of Learning Falcon Cam & Gulf Tower Falcon Cam
Two pairs Pittsburgh Peregrine Falcons (Falco peregrinus) and their incubating eggs

Alcoa Eagle Cam
Two Iowan Bald Eagles* (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) and their chicks. For my friends in Philly - there is a mating pair of Bald Eagles that hunts at the John Heinz Wildlife Refuge near the airport if you ever want to go check them out with me!

Friends of Blackwater Osprey Cam
This is a good one - a nest box set up for fish-hunting Ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) in Maryland seems to have attracted a mating pair, who are collecting nest material and then may have some chicks. This one doesn't refresh as often, but there's a little more going on, story-wise. Also, Ospreys are my favorite birds of prey, because they have their own genus all to themselves, and because they are fucking badasses.

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